How to Start a Website or Blog on WordPress (Free or Premium)
Is it a good idea to use WordPress for a blog or a website. It is the most popular content management system (CMS) so you will have excellent support and a wide range of different themes and plugins that you can use.
The steps for starting a website or a blog in WordPress are exactly the same so read the article and don’t skip any parts.
So, whether you envision your blog as a hobby or as a potential business or money-making website, this is what you need to do first. I will skip the motivational talks and assume that you have already decided to start a WordPress blog/website. You can even start it from the comfort of your couch if you have a laptop.
It is possible to use a full or a free (but limited) version of WordPress. Let´s see how to do it. In this guide, I will show you how to create a WordPress blog from scratch using two of the most popular methods.
- Standalone (full version). A self-hosted blog using the most popular free and open source software WordPress.org and hosted by a web host (like BlueHost). It will be a full version of WordPress
- Online version (limited). Another popular option is the WordPress.com online blogging solution. It is free but limited. You can always upgrade it to a full version (but it will be more expensive than using web hosting)
Creating a blog using any of the options above is a simple task that can be completed in 5-10 minutes. This guide is for beginners (no technical or programming skills are required). After that, you will successfully launch your own blog or website.
Before going into detail on how to start a blog or a website, it’s important to understand the differences between WordPress.org and WordPress.com.
- To start with, WordPress.org is an open-source CMS, so anyone can download and use it for free. Many developers, designers and coders who liked the platform got involved and built a large community around it.
- WordPress.com is a commercial online project (service) that uses the WordPress.org system to power itself. It is limited with the free subscription or unlimited with paid (expensive) subscription.
1. Starting a Blog/Website Using Web Hosting
There is a wide range of web hosts that offers easy 1 click installation of WordPress.
Some of the popular are:
- DreamHost – if you are on a budget
- SiteGround – best support and speed
- BlueHost – best features for bloggers
Even if you are just starting out a blog or a website on WordPress, I highly recommend using the standalone full version on a web host. Yes, the learning curve will be higher and there will likely be more work on your part, but having your own website that you can manage is priceless and definitely worth the extra time to manage.
You will be able to install any themes, plugins and services you want, run ads and monetize your blog the way you want. There are almost no limits to self-hosting a WordPress blog.
Before you can install WordPress, you’ll need a web host that can store all your files, manage your domain, and take care of your site. For the purposes of this guide, I have chosen BlueHost, a fantastic and popular hosting company that allows you to create a WordPress blog for as little as $2.95 per month!
With Bluehost, even the cheapest option gives you a free domain, an SSL certificate that makes your site more secure, the ability to install WordPress with a few clicks, and 24/7 support.
For a blog, you will do fine with the cheapest plan but if you need a business website or even an ecommerce then you should take a look for a more powerful plan in order to get all the power needed from the server. Blogs usually don’t need any power.
1.1. Visit the BlueHost Website
Click on the link to visit the BlueHost website and then click on “Host Your Site”: You can also choose the website builder version to the right but it is limited to only 300 templates. It is better with the full version on shared hosting.
1.2. Choose a Plan
If you need a blog, choose the Basic Plan as it will cover all the basic needs of running it.
Once your blog is gaining momentum and starting to get a lot of traffic, you might want to consider upgrading to the Plus version of your hosting plan, which offers advanced features better suited to handle the massive influx of traffic.
If you plan to run a business website then Plus plan is a good idea. And if you decide to run an ecommerce and sell products then you need power and should consider using the Pro Plan.
1.3. Enter a Domain Name
If this is your first time running a WordPress blog, you will need to register a new domain. Enter a name and select an extension from the drop-down menu next to it. You can choose from a variety of domains including .com, .net, and .org.
After clicking Next, Bluehost will check the domain and let you know if it’s available. If the domain name is free to use, you can continue with the registration process. If not, you will have to choose a different name.
If the desired domain name is already taken, Bluehost will help you by allowing you to select it later. This will give you time for some research and reflection.
1.4. Sign up for a Bluehost account
Bluehost will then redirect you to a registration form where you will fill in your billing information along with your personal information.
1.5. Select Hosting Options
The 12-month package offers basic services at the lowest price. But you can also consider two other options – after all, hosting is a long investment. You can always remove unnecessary features from your package during the initial stages of starting a blog and add them later when you feel the need.
1.6. Set Your Password
You will set your password after you enter your billing information as the last step in registering with Bluehost. The same password will be used for verification.
1.7. Sign in to your new account
Congratulations! You are now the proud owner of a new website. Sign in to your Bluehost account to continue with the setup.
1.8. Choose a WordPress theme
You will now be given the option to choose a WordPress theme – choose the one that suits your brand and best represents your website.
If none of the options displayed work, visit the WordPress repository to select a theme from the options presented there.
The theme I am using is Publisher. It has over 95 designs and is perfect for blogs.
1.9. Welcome to WordPress
When you log in, you will be greeted with a welcome message. BlueHost will then help you create a blog. If you don’t need supervision when creating a blog, it also offers you the option to continue on your own.
And here it is! You can now go to the WordPress login page and start working on your blog. It was easy, right?
1.10. PROs of Self Hosting
We believe that a self-hosted blog is a much better option than a free WordPress.com account. While there are many benefits to having your own website, there are only a few that you should consider.
- Full control over your blog/website
- Use any theme or plugin
- Monetize your blog/website however you want
- No limitations
- Do whatever you want
- The learning curve is slightly higher
2. Creating a Blog on WordPress.com (free)
In rare cases, your own blog may not be necessary. Regardless of the perks it provides, some users will never need full control over their site. They won’t have to switch and customize themes or use different plugins.
Some users are simply not interested in learning WordPress and don’t need all the functions for monetization and SEO. They don’t want to install WordPress and do it themselves; all they need is a platform that allows them to post stories.
So, another option when creating a WordPress blog is to sign up for a free WordPress.com account. By doing this, you can start writing your first article in the next few minutes after reading it without paying a single cent. You won’t have to worry about domain names, hosting space, or backing up your site. So how do you start a free blog on WordPress.com?
- Go to WordPress.com
- Click the “Start” button.
- Choose the type of website you want to create (blog, website, portfolio or online store)
- Choose a theme
- Enter your site name and choose the first free option
- Select the “Start with free” option.
- Fill in your account details
- Click the “Create my account” button.
From the moment you click the button, the universal machines at WordPress.com will generate your site. Now you can log into the blog and get started. You can further modify themes, add widgets, and create new posts. This is it. Your first blog is free. Good luck!
2.1. How to Upgrade Your Free Account (if you need)
While a free account will be sufficient for some users, you should be aware that there is an upgrade option. WordPress.com has several plans you can choose from, and if you get more serious about your blog, you’ll probably need to upgrade it (or better yet, switch to a self-hosted version):
Login to your blog and navigate to “upgrades”.
If you choose to upgrade your account, you’ll get your own domain, custom Jetpack features, extra space, access to new themes, support, customization, and more. The business plan now allows you to install your own themes and plugins as well. But take your time to look through all the options to see which plan suits you best.
2.2 Comparison of Prices and Features
As you can see to get a full version you will need to pay 15$/month while using web hosting would only cost you 2.95$/mo and you would get all the functions.
Popular web hostings:
- DreamHost – if you are on a budget
- SiteGround – best support and speed
- BlueHost – best features for bloggers
2.3 Pros and Cons of WordPress.com
Just like the standalone version, WordPress.com has its pros and cons. While you can have an account completely free of charge and have the professionals manage it for you, it has many disadvantages.
For example, if you decide to use different themes and plugins that you can find on the web or customize certain parts of your blog, this will not be possible with free or premium WordPress.com sites.
- Free for basic service
- Professionally Managed
- Beginner-friendly and easy to set up
- You can’t use your own themes or plugins (unless you subscribe to a PRO plan)
- You do not control the blog
- Limited monetization options
- Limited SEO options
- More expensive than web hosting (if you decide to upgrade)
3. WordPress Website Maintenance
WordPress works in two ways:
The front end
As the name suggests, this page will be visible to your visitors whenever they visit your site. Tasks that are usually done on the back end, such as improving plugin functionality and customizing your theme, will be visible to you and your visitors on the front end of your WordPress website.
It also allows you to perform actions such as commenting and posting to other social networks from the front end to you and your incoming visitors.
This is commonly known as the WordPress Dashboard – this is where you can control and manage every aspect of your site’s content, functionality, and web design.
If you want to access the WordPress dashboard, type yourwebsite.com/wp-admin into your search engine’s address bar. Here, log in using your WordPress username and the password you have set for your account.
The WordPress dashboard manages the administration of your site.
The control panel is the blog’s administration center. It consists of three main parts:
- Left side menu
- Top toolbar
- Middle section
In the left column of the WordPress dashboard, you will find all the administration options and focus most of your creative efforts.
4. Writing a Blog Post
To write a new blog post, log in to your blog. On the left, click “Posts” – “Add new”. An editor area will open where you can start writing your first post.
There are a few things you need to be familiar with. To learn more, read our detailed article on how to write a good blog post.
You can build an excellent blog or website in WordPress but make sure to make a good decision choosing a web hosting or a free version. Web hosting starts from 2.95$/mo and gives you a full version of WordPress. It is easy to install but will take you some time to learn. On the other hand a free version on WordPress.com is easy to start in just 5 min BUT it is a limited version and if you decide one day to upgrade to full then you will have to pay 15$/mo or manually move to a web hosting.
While you have several options when starting a WordPress blog, I recommend jumping straight to the self-hosted version on Bluehost. You can take full control of your website. When you run your own blog, there are almost no limits and you don’t have to worry about the monetization options, themes and plugins you would like to use.
Yes, you will need more time to manage the entire blog yourself, and sometimes there will be problems with third party themes and plugins. But at the end of the day, you can rest assured knowing that this is your blog and you can do whatever you want with it.
Can I start my blog for free?
Yes, you can start your blog for free. You can choose more than just a few options. One of the most popular options is to run a website on WordPress.com, which is completely free. It’s the same with Blogger.
But one of the best ways is to start a blog on your own WordPress, where building a site is completely free and the only cost is hosting, which you can get for as little as $2.95 a month if you choose Bluehost.
Do I need WordPress to create a blog?
Although WordPress is the most popular blogging option, it is not the only one available. There are dozens of other content management systems you can use to get started blogging. The most popular alternatives are Wix, Squarespace, and Blogger, which allow you to quickly start your blog.
How much money do I need to start a blog?
If you want to start a simple blog, you can do it with no money at all. For example, creating a blog on WordPress.com does not cost you any money, and it only takes a few seconds to register a new account
If you decide to step up your game and prefer to blog on WordPress, you’ll need less than $3/month to pay for premium hosting services like Bluehost.
Can I start a blog without a web hosting provider?
Hosting services are an integral part of every website. However, if you decide to start your blog with a free website builder like WordPress.com, Blogger, Tumblr or Wix for example, you might forget the whole idea of hosting providers.
Don’t let this surprise you. Hosting is something a website cannot do without, but in these cases, website builders use their own hosting services. This means you don’t have to pay or worry about hosting at all. WordPress.com, Wix, Blogger, Tumblr or any other free website builder will take care of all aspects of hosting so you can focus on designing and building your website.
Which domain name should I choose for my blog?
Finding good and affordable domain names is hard. But it should be a completely personal choice. Pick a domain you like and it will reflect what you do. Ideally, you should find a short, easy-to-remember domain name that is closely related to what you do.
If you need help, you can always use domain name generators to give you new ideas.
Can I make money with a WordPress blog?
Building a blog on your own WordPress means owning a blog. So you can do whatever you want with it and there are many opportunities to make money with it.
You can run CPC and CPM ads and banners on your site, which can make you money. You can also show private ads. Selling digital goods, using affiliate links, and selling memberships or sponsored posts are all great ways to make money through your blog.
Can I start a blog without technical skills?
A few years ago, the answer to this question would have been completely different. But today it is possible to create a blog without technical skills. Many platforms like Wix and Squarespace have introduced visual builders that allow you to simply drag and drop website elements into the right place until you get the site you like.
WordPress, on the other hand, has more than a few page builders. If you combine them with premium themes, you can create a professional looking website without writing a single line of code.
How do I create my own email address for my blog?
If you have your own domain name for your website, it only takes a few clicks to create a personalized email address if you use Bluehost. You just need to login to your cPanel BlueHost and open the Advanced tab. There you will find the Email Accounts setting, where you need to click on the “Create” button to create your own email address. After that, you will be ready to start using your new email address.
How do I come up with good blog post ideas?
It can be relatively easy to come up with blog post ideas at first. You probably started the blog with some concepts in mind and covering those first few points might not be a problem. As you progress down the road, creating a unique and compelling blog post will get harder and harder. This is especially true if you care about your blog and want to get the most out of it.
When you get stuck, you should see if there are any open or unresolved issues in your area of expertise that you can resolve. It would be helpful if you also thought about changing the perspective; instead of writing about a general problem, try writing from a personal experience that will engage the audience. Also, research keywords and find out what people are interested in. If you can combine these keywords into something unique to you, a popular blog post is just around the corner.
You should also always know your audience and write about what they want. If you still don’t know your audience, you can start asking them questions on blogs, surveys, or social media.